Westport honors 100th anniversary of Veterans Day
WESTPORT — Veterans, families and elected officials filled Westport Town Hall auditorium on Monday to honor and show support for military veterans.
“It is always a particular pleasure for me to attend these ceremonies to thank and honor our veterans,” First Selectman Jim Marpe said. “We also welcome and recognize friends and families of our vets whose support and love are essential to so many of our soldiers.”
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The celebration marked the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson formalizing Armistice Day in 1919 as a moment to honor veterans, following the conclusion of World War I a year earlier. The day would be renamed Veterans Day in 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. As part of the event, various speakers spoke to the importance of men and women who have served the country.
“Military service is a life altering experience,” Marpe said. “Today we take ceremonial note of the importance of what you have done for our country.”
He added the town is committed to supporting veterans and their families however possible.
“As a community, Westport is grateful for the service of all our military veterans, as well as our first responders, many of whom are themselves military veterans,” Marpe said. “... But as we leave here today, let’s also remember that saying ‘thank you’ may not be enough. Let us re-commit to be sure that all our veterans are able to live their lives in dignity, accessibility and with a peace of mind that comes with our ongoing support.”
Colin Corneck, a Staples High School senior who gave a Veterans Day address, said he was fortunate to attend a school with others as passionate as him to serve the country. Corneck has received a Navy ROTC scholarship and has applied to the Naval Academy as well as West Point.
“I would like to thank our veterans for your heroic sacrifices,” he told the crowd. “Your bravery and willingness to serve made it plausible for my generation to be here today. A debt that can never be repaid, but should be paid forward.”
Corneck recalled being moved by the stories of veterans who came to speak while he was an eighth-grader at Bedford Middle School. Corneck himself comes from a long line of veterans, including great-grandparents who served in World War II and his father who was a naval intelligence officer.
“Service to me means the opportunity to protect our nations values,” Corneck said. “Just as the veterans we honor today have put their lives on the line to protect our democracy and ideals we stand for as a country, I want to do the same.”
The ceremony ended honoring veterans in attendance, and an armed forces salute with music by the Westport Community Band.